Bad boys

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

Apparently, there is something in the water in Baton Rouge--or at least in the aqua the team managers are giving the LSU football team.

Those Tigers continue to be part of an ugly growing trend in the capitol city, and that trend always seems to pop up at the worst possible moments.

And to no one's surprise, it has happened again. For the fourth straight year, an LSU starter has been suspended from the team during the summer.

This time around, the corporate is starting safety Jalen Mills. Mills was arrested on Tuesday under charges of second-degree assault.

A young lady is claiming that he punched her in the mouth at his apartment last month.

After the arrest, LSU didn't waste time taking action. They indefinitely suspended Mills from the team just a little more than two months before the Tigers' big opening game against Wisconsin.

After going through some serious growing pains last year, LSU's defense was supposed to make a return to prominence with eight returning starters and a few impressive incoming freshmen.

Mills was supposed to be part of the resurgence. The junior was third on the team last year with 67 tackles, and he added three interceptions.

However, with this recent brush with the law, his future is uncertain. For now, he's watching from the sidelines.

He's not alone. In Baton Rouge, we've seen this song and dance a few times before. It's starting to get quite tiresome.

It all started in the summer of 2011 when starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson allegedly got into a fight in the parking lot of a bar after hours.

He was charged with second-degree battery--which later was downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Either way, he ended up being suspended for the first four games of the season.

Wide receiver Russell Shepard was also suspended for the first three games of the year for an NCAA rules violation.

The next summer, Tyrann Mathieu infamously failed a third drug test--which led to the Heisman finalist getting kicked off of the team and ultimately ending his career at LSU.

Just a year later, stud running back Jeremy Hill was arrested after a fight outside of a bar. Hill was already on probation for a 2011 arrest.

The incident ended up sidelining him for last year's season opener and the first half of the Tigers' second game against UAB.

But those are not the only instances of high-profile Tigers getting into trouble off of the field during the Les Miles era.

Everything seemed to have intensified in the summer of 2008.

That's when Ryan Perrilloux had emerged as LSU's air apparent at quarterback with Matt Flynn graduating.

There was plenty of buzz and high expectations with Perrilloux playing so well when given opportunities during the Tigers' 2007 national championship season.

In only his second ever start, he led LSU to an SEC Championship win over Tennessee en route to being named the game's MVP.

But in the offseason, Perrilloux was indefinitely suspended by Miles for violating team rules. And less than three months later, he was kicked off of the team for reportedly failing a drug test.

Speaking of drugs, Mathieu, Spencer Ware and Tharold Simon were all suspended for a game during the 2011 season for testing positive for synthetic marijuana. And before the 2013 Chic-fil-A Bowl, punter Brad Wing was also suspended for failing a drug test.

Now, Mills has joined the growing list of Tigers to be arrested and/or suspended.

I'm not naïve. I realize that schools around the country have players arrested or suspended all of the time but at LSU, it's different. You'd be hard-pressed to find another team that has so many starters and team leaders suspended or losing their battles with the law each year.

Regardless of the outcome of the Mills case, it begs one simple question: what the heck is going on in Baton Rouge?

Is Les Miles being too lax? Is he not cracking the whip enough? Is he not taking character into account when it comes to recruiting? Seriously, what's the deal?

I think it's probably all of the above.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and blame everything on Les. That wouldn't be fair. He can't go around baby-sitting these guys 24 hours a day and making sure they're staying out of trouble.

They're adults; they know right from wrong. He can only tell them what to do; he can't make them comply.

With that said, there has to be some kind of disconnect. With so many players--and high-profile players at that--continually getting into trouble, it's obvious that they're not too scared of what consequences await.

It's time Les starts tightening the screws a little. No more third and fourth chances. Repeated stupidity and constant brushes with the law cannot be tolerated because at the end of the day, wins and losses are not the only things being affected negatively.

All of this extracurricular activity is equalling nasty black eyes for the university. Straight up, it makes LSU look really bad.

If you don't believe me, find out for yourself. When there is a national article about an LSU player being arrested online, scroll down to the comments and see what people are saying.

One of the most prominent impressions you'll be left with is that people outside of Louisiana look at LSU as a team full of hoodlums and outlaws.

That's not the kind of perception you want for your state university but then again, perception is often reality.

It's hard to argue against those points when every summer you're seeing a Tiger getting arrested, or one that's failing yet another drug test or another one that is being suspended for breaking team rules.

When you're the head coach, all success, failure, achievements and inadequacies begin and end with you. So, when it comes to Les Miles' program, he needs to either shape up or ship out.